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Published on March 3rd, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans

Breathe Easy with Natural Air Fresheners

We all want a nice smelling home, which is why air fresheners are so popular.  Many spray and plug-in fragrance products may smell sweet, but breathing in that “fresh scent” also causes you to inhale harmful chemicals such as phosphates, chlorine bleach, or ammonia.

These unnatural substances can cause allergic reactions, trigger asthma attacks, and irritate the lungs.

Spray fresheners don’t just disappear into thin air—the chemicals linger on, staying in the home as they land on surfaces and floors and sink into carpets. Suddenly the air doesn’t smell quite so sweet…

The Health Hazards of Home Air

Air fresheners that use chemicals to deodorize the air or cover odors with fragrances contain ingredients like camphor and paradichlorobenzene, which have the potential to damage the nervous system and cause cancer, respectively.


Unnatural fragrances added to products may contain formaldehyde, a carcinogen, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), known to cause cancer.

Fortunately, alternatives to chemical-based air fresheners naturally refresh and scent the air, are biodegradable, and are not harmful to your health.

Natural Air Fresheners

Here are some simple, homemade air fresheners to try:

  • White vinegar removes odors naturally on surfaces and in the air
  • Baking soda absorbs odors, so place a few open boxes throughout the home
  • Boiling spices like cinnamon in a little bit of water releases its fragrance
  • Essential oils diluted in water can be used as a spray freshener—try a combination of your favorite essential oils like lemon (an especially effective air deodorizer) and cedar
    • Or you can simply add oils to a bowl of water, which adds moisture to dry, inside air during winter months
    • Burning essential oils in an aromatherapy diffuser is safer than burning paraffin candles, which offgas VOCs
    • Soy or beeswax candles also offer natural waxes that can be burned to release pleasant fragrances

Eco Product Picks

  • Citrus Magic solids and sprays are made from citrus fruit peels and sprays come in non-aerosol containers.
  • ECOS offers the Uni-Fresh line of bottled scents, made with essential oils of citrus fruits.  Products are biodegradable and are not tested on animals.
  • Method makes plug-in air fresheners, sprays, candles, incense sticks, and solid fragrances that are non-toxic.

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11 Responses to Breathe Easy with Natural Air Fresheners

  1. Guest says:

    Some of method’s products are great. But I’ve had an allergic reaction to one and that put me on guard, because usually with products that really are natural this doesn’t happen. “nature-inspired”. my .02

  2. Lisa Kasper says:

    I agree for the most part. Natural is always better. There are so many choices out there with more natural/pure alternatives that it is easy to be healthful AND still get wonderful aroma. Our motto is *Always* read the label. If you can’t pronounce most of whats in there-it can’t be good for you body. 🙂

  3. vicky says:

    I would like to know if you have any natural cedar/lavendar or cedar only air diffuser that do not cause allergic reactions..please send me info. with the ingredients of your diffuser before I purchase product because I think I may have a cedar allergy, but I like the scent…thank you.

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  5. David DiMaio says:

    Have you found any connection between the plug in air fresheners and carbon monoxide. I am a Deputy Chief of a fire department in Rhode Island and I think these plug ins may be responsible for setting off some CO detectors in my city. what are your thoughts.???

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